ḤULLIN (ḤOLIN, , plural of ="profane," applied to things for ordinary use):

Table of Contents

Treatise of the Babylonian Talmud, including Mishnah, Tosefta, and Gemara; it is not found in the Jerusalem Talmud. While it is included in the Seder Ḳodashim, it treats mainly of non-consecrated things and of things used as the ordinary food of man, particularly meats; it is therefore sometimes called "Sheḥiṭat Ḥullin" (Slaughtering for Ordinary Use). Its place in the order varies in the several compilations. Its contents may be summed up as follows:

  • I. As to when, and by whom, an animal must be killed to be ritually fit for food; the instrument with which the killing must be done; the space within which the incision must be made, and the exceeding of which renders the animal "ṭerefah." Incidentally, it discusses the differences between "sheḥiṭah" and "meliḳah" (pinching off the heads of birds brought as sacrifices; see Lev. i. 12, v. 8), and the various degrees in which different vessels are susceptible to uncleanness.
  • II. Concerning the organs that must be severed: in quadrupeds, the trachea and the gullet, or the greater part of each, must be cut through; in fowls, cutting through one of these organs, or the greater part of one, suffices. In both cases the jugular vein must be severed. Rules as to the character of the incision follow. Then comes a series of rules regarding animals killed in honorof foreign deities or of deified natural objects: regarding the localities where the formal killing of an animal might create a suspicion of idolatry; regarding the prohibition against using as ordinary food the flesh of animals killed for sacred purposes (see Sheḥiṭah).
  • III. On organically diseased animals and animals injured by accident or by beasts or birds of prey. The Mishnah here enumerates eighteen diseases and injuries that would render an animal ṭerefah, including perforations of the lungs or of the small intestines, and fractures of the spine or of the ribs. It also cites diseases and injuries that do not render the animal ṭerefah, and concludes with an enumeration of the marks by which clean birds and fishes are distinguished from the unclean (see Dietary Laws).
  • IV. On embryos, living or dead, found in a slaughtered female animal; on the Cæsarian section.
  • V. On the prohibition against killing a female animal and her offspring on the same day (see Lev. xxii. 28). If both animals have been consecrated and killed within the sacred precincts, the animal first killed may be used, but not the second; the killer of the second is subject to "karet" (cutting off, excision). If neither animal has been consecrated and both have been killed beyond the sacred precincts, the flesh of both may be used for food; but the killer of the second is subject to flagellation. To prevent an unwitting violation of this prohibition the cattle-dealer is required to notify the purchaser of the sale of the mother or the offspring for the meat-market. This notice must be given whenever meat is in greater demand than usual, as on the eve of a festival.
  • VI. On the duty of covering the blood of ritually killed animals of the chase, and of birds (see Lev. xvii. 13), and on the material with which it should be covered. This applies only to the blood of animals which, after being slaughtered, are found to be kasher, and only when the killing has been done on legitimate ground (see § V.).
  • VII. On the prohibition against eating the sinews of animals (Gen. xxxii. 32), which is always and everywhere in force, and which extends to consecrated and unconsecrated animals, and to the live young found in a slaughtered mother (see § IV.).
  • VIII. On the prohibition against cooking meat and milk together (see Ex. xxiii. 19); by "meat" is meant any animal flesh except fish and locust. While this is admittedly merely a rabbinical provision, nevertheless meat and milk should not be placed near each other on the dining-table.
  • IX. On careasses and reptiles that communicate Levitical uncleanness by contact; particles from different parts of a "nebelah" (piece of carrion) are considered as one piece, and if they are collectively of sufficient bulk they render Levitically unclean any food with which they come in contact. For example, a particle of skin and a particle of bone or sinew, if together equaling an olive in size, render food otherwise clean unclean.
  • X. On the parts of every ritually killed animal which the layman is required to reserve for the priest (Deut. xviii. 3), and on the rules concerning injured animals that should be presented to the priest or should be redeemed.
  • XI. On the duty of surrendering to the priest the first-fruit of the sheep-shearing (Deut. xviii. 4); on the differences between this duty and that treated in the preceding chapter; on the number of sheep one must possess before this regulation comes into force, and on the circumstances under which one is exempt.
  • XII. On the duty of setting free the mother of a nest of birds (Deut. xxii. 6-7). This duty devolves only when the mother is actually in the nest with her young, and when the birds are nesting in the open, where they can easily escape. Unclean birds and "Herodian" birds (=birds produced by mating different species, said to have been practised by Herod) are not included in this provision.

The Tosefta and the Mishnah correspond in the first seven chapters. Ch. viii. Tosefta corresponds to ch. viii. and ix. Mishnah; ch. ix. Tosefta to ch. x. Mishnah; ch. x. Tosefta to ch. xi. and xii. Mishnah. On the other hand, the Tosefta is more prolix than its older sister compilation, and sometimes cites episodes from the lives of great men in connection with the subject-matter. Thus, speaking of the forbidding of meat prepared for idolatrous purposes, it quotes the reports of Eleazar b. Dama's last illness and alleged apostasy (see Ben Dama; Eliezer Ben Hyrcanus).

The Gemara.

The Mishnah of Ḥullin is but rarely cited in the Jerusalem Gemara; in fact, only 15 of the 75 mishnayot from the treatise are quoted in the entire Jerusalem Talmud. This is not so in the Babylonian Gemara, which discusses and explains every section of the Mishnah and also much of the Tosefta. It affords a clear insight into the main object of the provisions of this treatise—the prevention of cruelty and pain, and the draining of every drop of blood from the body in order to render the flesh wholesome. A single illustration will suffice to prove the humanitarian motive of this treatise. Samuel Yarḥinai, a rabbi of the third century, great both as a physician and as an exponent of the Law, established this rule: "When the "ṭabbaḥ' [butcher] is not familiar with the regulations concerning sheḥiṭah, one must not eat anything slaughtered by him"; all the regulations concerning sheḥiṭah, on which Yarḥinai lays much stress, he sums up in the following five mishnaic words: "shehiyyah" (delaying), "derasah" (chopping), "ḥaladah" (sticking the knife in under the veins), "hagramah" (cutting in another than the proper part of the animal), and "iḳḳur" (tearing; Ḥul. i. 2; ii. 3, 4), against all of which one must guard himself (Ḥul. 9a; see Sheḥiṭah; comp. Rabbinowicz, "Médecine du Talmud," Introduction).


As in other treatises, grave halakic discussions are interspersed with instructive and entertaining haggadot. In a statement of the marks by which clean are distinguished from unclean animals, a unicorn is mentioned, and is said to be the gazel of Be-Ilai. The mention of the latter suggests the "lion of Be-Ilai," and thereupon the compiler proceeds to tell an elaborate story of Cæsar (the emperor) and Joshua ben Hananiah (59b et seq.).

E. C. S. M.
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